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Appraisal of ground water in the vicinity of the Leadville drainage tunnel, Lake County, Colorado

January 1, 1979

Ground water in the Leadville mining district occurs in granite, quartzite, limestone, sandstone, porphyry dikes, and unconsolidated material. These rocks form a single aquifer system because the formations are hydraulically connected through contact, mine workings, faulting, and fracturing. The aquifer is recharged by precipitation and water moves toward California Gulch and probably toward Evans Gulch, in the drainage basin of the Arkansas River. The Leadville drainage tunnel was constructed from 1943 to 1945 and later extended during 1950 to 1952, in order to drain the mine workings. Discharge from the tunnel lowered water levels 30 to 96 feet in mine shafts from 1944 to 1951. Installation of an impervious plug in the tunnel has been proposed in order to reduce the discharge of water containing objectionable concentrations of trace metals into the East Fork Arkansas River. The proposed plug would reduce the discharge from the tunnel, cause water levels east of the town of Leadville to rise, flood some mine workings, and increase ground-water discharge to California Gulch. However, the proposed plug is not expected to cause water levels in Leadville to rise substantially, but more current and detailed data are needed to verify this. Discharge from the Leadville drainage tunnel is probably a mixture of water in equilibrium with carbonate aquifer materials from the mineralized zone, water acidified by the localized oxidation of pyrite from the mineralized zone, and water nearly saturated with calcite from the glacial mantle. Based on limited data, water from the carbonate mineral deposits has a pH of about 7.0 and concentrations of manganese of about 1,800 micrograms per liter and zinc concentrations of about 13,000 micrograms per liter. (USGS)

Publication Year 1979
Title Appraisal of ground water in the vicinity of the Leadville drainage tunnel, Lake County, Colorado
DOI 10.3133/ofr791538
Authors John T. Turk, O. James Taylor
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 79-1538
Index ID ofr791538
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse